• Ban on diesel cars should be brought forward & a national diesel scrappage scheme should be introduced

The Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs has today written to the Prime Minister to call for the ban on the sale of new diesel and petrol cars to be brought forward to 2030. The ban is currently planned to come into force in 2040.

The Mayor has also urged the government to support those who rely on cars for family or employment reasons by providing financial help to make the switch from more polluting cars to cleaner vehicles and other forms of transport, as well as investing in a national diesel scrappage scheme.

Last year the government slashed green car grants by £1,000 for Electric Vehicles to £3,500 as well as disqualifying a host of plug-in hybrid models from the popular Plug-in Car Grant scheme.

In his letter the Mayor highlights research by Kings College showing that children in Tower Hamlets have up to 10% less lung capacity than normal.

In March 2019 Tower Hamlets Council declared a climate emergency and the Mayor announced the council would aim to become a zero-carbon council by 2025. This is part of the council’s ongoing work to tackle poor air quality, including the anti-idling campaign and 50 planned ‘school streets’ and ‘play streets’, which means areas around some schools have restrictions to traffic so pupils are not exposed to harmful emissions.

The council is also investing in improving neighbourhoods through a Liveable Streets fund to make it easier to get about by foot, on a bike and on public transport, and installing 300 electric vehicle charging points across the borough. An air quality fund is also giving small pots of money to innovative groups in the community who want to do their bit.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said: “We face a climate emergency and we need urgent action. I’m calling on the government to ban sales of new diesel and petrol cars from 2030, a full ten years earlier than current plans.

“But we also need to help people who rely on their cars to make the switch to cleaner vehicles and other forms of transport. The government must step in and invest in a diesel scrappage scheme and put money back into green car grants.”

Deputy Mayor for Planning, Air Quality and Tackling Poverty Councillor Rachel Blake said: “We desperately need action at a national and international level to prevent further damage to our climate, but we’re also playing our part locally. We’ve declared a climate emergency in Tower Hamlets and announced our plans to become a zero-carbon council by 2025.

“By installing electric vehicle charging points, introducing school streets, investing in an Air Quality Fund and other measures we’re working hard to tackle poor air quality in our borough.”

Notes:

Full text of the letter sent to the Prime Minister:

Dear Prime Minister,

In Tower Hamlets our residents’ health is impacted by poor air quality. Research by Kings College showed children have up to 10% less lung capacity than normal. This is unacceptable and a call for politicians to act.

I’m calling on the government to ban sales of new diesel and petrol cars from 2030 – ten years earlier than the current planned date of 2040, as nationally our current plans are behind many other major countries.

As a council through our Breathe Clean initiative we have been engaging with residents to talk about the affect poor air quality has. We’ve talked with our residents about the changes they can make to help reduce their impact on the planet.

This is an issue that needs real political leadership, and it requires government to make progress faster than is currently planned. As a council we recently declared a ‘climate emergency’ to take action locally.

The government needs to show leadership through bringing the ban on diesel cars forward and putting its money where its mouth is and reversing cuts to green car grants as well as investing in a diesel scrappage scheme.

Many of our residents rely on diesel vehicles to carry out their day-to-day activities and run their businesses. Proposing the ban to be moved forward will require there being adequate financial support for residents in Tower Hamlets to take up cleaner forms of transport.

Last year your government slashed green car grants by £1,000 for Electric Vehicles to £3,500 as well as disqualifying a host of plug-in hybrid models from the popular Plug-in Car Grant scheme. I call on you to offer proper financial support so people can afford to change to greener vehicles.

Our residents can’t wait any longer – they need action now.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours Sincerely

Mayor John Biggs
Executive Mayor – Tower Hamlets

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